How You Become Great…At Anything

The menu plan for how our family lived on $13,000 during graduate school-without food stamps, medicare, or subsidized housing.

Well I finally finished up the ‘Living on $13,000 or Less’ series-of which the second half will finally come out next Tuesday! It’s taken me a lot longer than anticipated to polish it into a publication worthy piece. While doing so I learned a ton, and being the patient woman that I am *wink wink*, I decided to share what I learned now instead of waiting until the whole series was published.


So here goes…

We all yearn to become someone amazing and accomplish incredible feats in our lives, whether it’s to be a professional athlete, a fantastic artist, a great engineer, or an incredible listener we all want to become great at something in our lives. But just where does that journey start?

How to start

Start. That’s how you do it. Decide what you want to make of your life and just go.

Ok, ok I’ll actually try to be helpful. This can be the hardest step to define. If you don’t know what you want to do but just have that yearning to be something more, I suggest you read ‘Quitter’. Jon Acuff is one of my favorite self-help writers and ‘Quitter’ is his book specifically for those who don’t know what they want to do. Trying to figure out your passion is actually a whole ‘nother series so I’ll leave it at “read the book.”

If you know what you want to do it’s likely you’ve already started and haven’t even realized it-so it’s tough to determine when you’ve started. It wasn’t until I’d been blogging for a year that I realized I’ve always wanted to be an artist and a writer. I started blogging not because I was trying to be a writer but because I wanted to reach out and help others, writing was just a necessary part of the process.

As for art, it was just something I’d played around with since elementary school and felt natural to share. I never thought I was any good at art or writing, until these last few months I realized how meticulous I was being with details. Anyone spending 10+ hours on an art project must want to be a better artist, right?

So the trick is, once you realize what you want to do, do it on purpose. To do so; set a goal, be dedicated to it, and then become disciplined by setting time aside to work on it every day.

The reason I say ‘just go’ is because I’m a major perfectionist who tends to get bogged down in research. While I do believe in planning-sometimes you just have to jump and take a chance. If you let it, research can literally take years–and yes I am talking from personal experience here.

I’d say give yourself 1-3 hours for your initial research and then try something. All the research in the world won’t solve problems until it is acted upon and sometimes experience is needed to help you refine your research process anyway.

Don’t listen to the nay-sayers

If you have a passion for something but feel like you’re not good enough-try any way. There may be other people who are smarter, taller, prettier, better, or more talented than you but you know what’s more rare? Hard work, and anyone can do that. The question is-are you willing?

I’m not talking about hard menial labor either-although that is more than likely part of the process. I’m talking about pouring so much of yourself into a project, that there is more than blood, sweat, and tears in it.

Can you open up and place the inner most part of your heart into your work? So much so that you feel a tangible pull when you’re working on it? This is why finding your passion is important-it takes passion to pull you through the hard work. Passion is the foundation for your courage-which enables you to share that innermost part of yourself.


Keep going

After going through the notes for the umpteen millionth time, I realized how ‘living on $13,000sounds amazing but when going through it step by step, none of the things we did were mind blowing.

The fact of the matter is we were stubborn, determined and continually moving in the right direction. I realized the amazing thing was not what we did but that we kept going.

If we fell, we got back up. We were determined to keep going and do our best even if the goal sounded impossible. There’s no way our goal would happen if we quit so we might as well keep trying and give that chance-in-a-million just that–a chance.

This goes for anything in life-if you want to be good at something you need to be working on it little by little every day. If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself down. Just remember the energy you’d be using to berate yourself will be far more helpful climbing up instead of beating yourself down.

I’ve been reading artistic blogs lately and the most popular advice is to keep an artistic journal and draw every day. It’s the same in the literary realm, if you want to be a writer- write every day. If you want to be good at anything, just keep trying. every. day.

There’s an amazing power that lies in our subconscious. When tapped into, you come up with creative solutions that are faster, better and smarter. Creativity takes time, it needs to incubate, so working consistently over a longer period of time is far more efficient than doing any of those ‘big things’ in a short time.

Even so, I tend to shoot for accomplishing big things–fast. Sometimes I just want that never ending to do list to clear off for once. So I attempt to block out several hours at a time in hopes to finally get that project off my list.

But guess what? Trying to find a big block of time is hard, so big projects tend to be put off and off until–many times–forgotten. But If I break the project into smaller pieces and work on it little by little it will at least get done. Even if I don’t see an end at first, I know it will get finished if I just keep going.

Like this series I’ve been agonizing over-I’d see how much was left and become overwhelmed. When I committed myself to writing at least ½ hour a day, the series finally started to gain momentum. It’s taken me months and more than 100 hours (of struggling with my cognitive ability) to edit, but hey, the overwhelming project is done!

Funny thing is, the more often I work through my struggles and just write no matter what-the better I feel and the closer to publication I get.

I’ve also talked on here about a back injury sustained during high school. I’ve learned that doing small workouts throughout my day is far more beneficial to my health than getting that one hour at the gym. More consistently working my body gets the movement it needs the entire day instead of a once a day fix. Being slow and consistent has helped my mobility and pain level far more than the ‘big’ work outs. I’ve been able to lengthen my times between chiropractor visits and work through more tough times on my own.

Breaking my workouts into smaller pieces helps me gain control over that injury. Before doing the smaller work outs it’s been really hard at times, the end of both pregnancies found me unable to get out of bed myself-let alone dress myself. There are still days when I can’t walk. Despite all that I can honestly say what I’ve learned from this injury far outweighs the pain it’s inflicted.

Now am I amazing? Not yet, but I’ve seen vast improvement in my life, which is why I’m sharing. I’ve started to define my life, not my limitations. If I’ve seen this pattern several times in my life while making large improvements, I must be onto something here.

So how do you become great at something? You start, keep going, and work on it every day. Don’t take any excuses from anyone–including yourself–and get up one more time than you fall down.

Amazing is for those who just won’t quit.


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